Cryologger Ice Tracking Beacon: A Low-Cost, Open-Source Platform for Tracking Icebergs and Ice Islands

As the environment is changing in the Arctic, shipping lanes have opened up, increasing maritime traffic by almost 75% in the last decade. However, icebergs and ice islands are still unpredictably drifting in the ocean and can thus become dangerous for ships in transit. To better understand potential ice hazards like icebergs and ice islands that are drifting in the Arctic, Adam Garbo and Derek Mueller designed the Cryologger Ice Tracking Beacon (ITB), an inexpensive and robust tracking transmitter that can be assembled at a cost 5 to 10 times lower than existing commercial alternatives, and then tested it during two scientific expeditions to the Arctic in 2018 and 2019. A total of 14 Cryologger ITBs were deployed during these expeditions on icebergs or ice islands near the Milne Barrier, Ellesmere Island, Baffin Island and near the Petermann Glacier in Greenland. According to Garbo and Mueller, the Cryologger ITBs have exceeded expectations in terms of lifespans, achieving up to 1,530 days of continuous operation, transmitting over 125,000 GNSS positions and covering a total distance of over 16,500 km. In addition, one of the Cryologger ITBs deployed in 2018 was able to transmit data for 4 years, while another Cryologger deployed in 2019 was still active as of December 2023 with over 4 years and 70 days of operation.


Finally, the Cryologger ITBs’ deployments have proved that low-cost hardware and software solutions can be effective and complementary to radar and aircraft reconnaissance for in situ iceberg tracking. The data collected has already contributed to an iceberg tracking database.

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